Trends in ... head and face protection

Making informed decisions

Related content: Product Focus

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

A head or face injury is one of the most dangerous and potentially life-altering injuries a worker can experience on the job. Complacency and the misuse of equipment – or ignoring personal protective equipment altogether – can result in a traumatic brain injury, blindness and death.

According to the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts,” 2012 edition, 64,590 head and 23,720 eye injuries occurred in 2009 in the private sector. Although these numbers are high, there are ways to protect against such injuries.

For example, faceshields protect against flying debris, arc flashes and punctures, and can be used in industries such as construction, medical and manufacturing. Care must be taken to ensure an employee not only is using the proper type of faceshield, but that he or she is using it correctly.

J.P. Sankpill, president and CEO of Lenexa, KS-based U.S. Safety, said faceshields often are sold without the faceshield window and frame being tested together. “This creates a false sense of security for the user since there is no assurance that they will get the protection they need,” he said. “According to the ANSI Z87.1 standard for eye and face protection, faceshield frame and window combinations must be tested as an assembled unit to prove that they meet the Z87.1 performance requirements for impact protection.”

So how can potential buyers find more information to make an informed decision? “Users should ask for test results wherever they buy faceshields,” Sankpill said. “The manufacturer should be able to provide documentation right away that distributors can keep on hand for future requests.”

There are many ways to protect against injuries on the job. Invest in the time to research equipment, ask the manufacturer questions if you are confused about something and always use PPE according to the directions.

When all it takes is a moment for a catastrophe to occur, “I didn’t know” should never be an acceptable statement.

Coming next month…
Plant safety and cold weather protection

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